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Mon, May
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The page turner of Ballinrobe

South of the border
The page turner of Ballinrobe


Willie McHugh

williemchugh@mayonews.ie This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

HE was a creature of habit and a doctrinaire of punctuality. The mean timekeeper of Greenwich could set the clock to his routine. See him now in your mind’s eye walking up Abbey Street as dark cloaks the shadows of dusk. 
Head slightly bowed and a hinting leap of acceleration in the step.  And the folded paper in an elbow grip between body and arm.  Follow him down beyond the counter to a corner and a reading lamp. With a pint of Guinness and the paper he sets off on his nightly flight of fancy.
No technological advancement in print will ever replace the physical discipline of buying and reading a paper or book.  He had this age old ritual honed to a fine art. Watch him crease the page into position for proper scrutiny before he wanders deep into the valley of concentration. Off he goes on another sojourn to satisfy his insatiable thirst for knowledge.
He follows the sentences of writers like Lara Marlowe or Miriam Lord as they lure him to the magical place where two worlds meet. The writer pours the ink but the reader turns the tap. It’s only then the words flow freely.
He lifts the head for the odd breather allowing his encyclopaedic brain some calibration time to absorb it all. Removing his spectacles and a tiring hand massages a withered brow.
As an aside he shares musings on events of the day with the patrons along the counter.  He was never found wanting either when it came to trading nuggets of wit with the jesters holding court on life’s unfolding drama down at the infamous ‘Mad Cow Roundabout’.
But then ‘The Old Lady of d’Olier Street’ would beckon him once more.
Bid him a last adieu now as he quietly slips away into the Ballinrobe night. The page turner turns the page of life no more. He read his final chapter and neatly folded the paper last week. Then he went home forever to Peggy and Dermot.    
Maurice Galvin was the page turner.     

‘Til the cow comes home in Cross
THE landscape around Cross has changed a tad since Brendan and Mary O’Mahoney were genial keepers at The Riverside Inn. The Molloy Brothers from Mulranny were chief among the crowd-pullers. 
All the way they came to Lough Corrib’s shore in a diesel guzzler of a Mercedes with a boot-load of Atlantic salmon. For hours on end they belted out rousing ballads like The Rambles of Spring or The Coastline of Mayo. From The Parks to The Derries, from Mochara to Cloughbrack, revellers descended on Cross weekly.
It has other sweet string to its bow. Eamon Harte will convince you beyond all reasonable doubt that Oscar Wilde once resided here. Not a lot of people know that.
The mighty ‘Cowboy’ Jack Holian and his trusty shovel catapulted the village to national prominence appearing on The Late Late Show on winter night as Ireland’s first Culchie.
Jack was and still is the true original of the species.
Despite the changes visited through the passage of time, the spirit of Cross never waned. A hardworking gang assemble every Tuesday night to tidy and enhance the village. And next weekend joie de verve and bonhomie returns to Cross again when they host a village festival. Ann Holian, Marie T Lydon, Tom Brophy and Julie McCarthy are among those cranking the wheel of revival.
Chris Loughrey kicks proceedings off on Friday night and there’s something for everyone. A dog show in Kings Lawn, beard shaving and waxing (ouch!), as well as a vintage car rally and fancy dress is only the half of it.  And on Sunday evening you can buy a little patch of ground in the village sports field and wait for the cow to come home.
And should she fertilise your little patch when she does what cows do, then you’ll leave Cross three grand richer. All other weekend proceeds go to Cancer Care West and The Alzheimer’s Society. Pay your money, bide your time and keep well back.
The Cross cow will do the rest.

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